The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Seasoned Canucks fans, and you certainly don't have to wait very long to see all of the good and bad to become one of them, knew not to be counting too many chickens after the supposed Statement game on Saturday against the front-running Sharks.
Canuck fans have been teased so many times over the years, only to be let down by their team as they inexplicably fall flat on their faces, that it is very difficult not to be cynical when their team is playing well. Call it Bandwagoning, call it being jaded, call it whatever you want … I'll call it a bad dream that keeps playing over and over.
Sure enough, just when even the most pessimistic started to let the faintest of hopes creep into their craniums that maybe, just maybe, catching Chicago and Calgary in the standings was in fact possible, the Canucks go out and do what they seemingly always do and lose to a team that they should beat and do it in a way that is downright embarrassing.Â
Rarely has a Vancouver team not played up or down to its opposition … play a good team and they'll either win or put up a good fight to let the fans believe in the remotely possible only to quickly dash their supporter's dreams with a performance like last night in Los Angeles.Â
The Kings are a team fighting for their playoff lives while the Canucks, are supposedly, a team trying to prove that they should be mentioned in the same breath as those cited as legitimate contenders.Â
The Canucks weren't completely out-played in the 3-2 loss, but other than the first 3 and then the final 15 minutes of the game, they got exactly what they deserved. It would be easy to say they hit a couple of crossbars and that LA were the recipients of some good fortune, but the bottom-line is that all of it was easily surmountable if the visitors had put in an effort that was anywhere close to what they are capable of.Â
It started early as Roberto Luongo deflected a harmless wrister, which looked like it might be going wide, into his own net. After that, the Canucks seemed to ice the puck continuously and couldn't make a pass or win a face-off to save their lives (41% on the night), especially on the power play that saw Jarret Stoll collect two goals.Â
They got a soft one themselves off of an Alex Burrows slap shot from just outside the blueline, and then waited until the end of the game to actually show some urgency in their game as they tried to overcome the two-goal lead they had handed the Kings.Â
Generating 12 shots on goal through the first 40 minutes and waiting until the final frame to “flick the switch” is not what good teams do, and quite frankly, is completely unacceptable. Â They played with desperation in the 3rd and with a little luck could have pulled this stinker out of the toilet and been able to shrug it off afterwards, but now they have to face themselves in the mirror and that's probably a good thing in the long run.Â
They are still in very good shape playoff-wise and the loss puts them at 12-3 since the beginning of February, so Canuck fans can take solace that all is far from lost. The problem is that those of us who have such a deep emotional investment in this team want and deserve better than just an OK team.Â
One shift at a time, one game at a time, whatever mindset it takes is what they have to do. They have a relative cakewalk of a schedule with 15 of their last 17 games against teams below them in the standings, and it is time for this team to prove that they can be consistently good, not consistently inconsistent.Â
Most of those teams they will be facing as the regular season winds down will be giving it their all as they fight and scrap to try and either keep themselves in the playoff hunt, or squeak into the top 8 … just the sort of games that the Canucks have shown a maddening tendency to let slip away like they did last night.Â
Next chance at redemption starts tomorrow night in Anaheim against the Ducks and if they don't give it a full effort and get two points after what they did last night, then all bets are off, and any Statements being made should be held off until the season comes to its conclusion.Â
The Grades …Â
C+ … Salo, Edler, O'Brien, Burrows, Kesler, Pyatt, Raymond, Johnson, Hordichuk
C … Luongo, Mitchell, Bieksa, Daniel, Demitra, Bernier, Wellwood
C- … Ohlund, Henrik, Sundin
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Written by Mark Gage